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Time to act in the public interest

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday, 8 September 2017.

Never let it be said that the local government sector in Queensland waits around for others to decide what is best practice in terms of transparency and accountability. The LGAQ Policy Executive has today proposed a system of capped campaign spending for the 2020 local government elections as a further step down that reform road.

We have suggested a vote of $2 per voter for mayoral candidates and $1 per voter for council candidates, subject to a maximum spend of $200,000 for those running for mayor and $50,000 for those running for council.

That gives a practical, community minded focus to the kind of election campaign reform needed to ensure continued public confidence in the process.

Campaign spending caps is just one of a raft of transparency reforms the LGAQ has sponsored over the last 18 months, including real time disclosure of electoral donations, strengthening legislative provisions related to electoral groupings and the establishment of a Local Government Independent Electoral Monitor.

We put this latest proposal to both sides of politics yesterday in light of the fast approaching state election. Ultimately, it's a matter for the government of the day to legislate for the election campaign caps, but a proposal like this needs to be put up for public debate. Whoever forms the next state government will have our full support and backing to introduce these reforms.

Of course, the fine detail on what shape these changes will ultimately take will be a matter for negotiation between the LGAQ and the government of the day, but limits on campaign spending in local government elections is an idea whose time has come.

I was back on the road for three days this week with visits to six councils in the State’s south west - Balonne, Paroo, Bulloo, Quilpie, Murweh and Maranoa. All great councils doing their very best to support and advance their communities. That’s an exact 50 councils the President Mark Jamieson and/or I have visited so far in 2017.

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